Standard: AA PTF


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Aluminum is a light-weight, high-strength, corrosion-resistant, and readily recyclable material. It is an essential ingredient for making, maintaining and improving products that modern society requires and developing nations demand. This industry, which is an essential member of the U.S. materials industry, will have a major role in determining this nation's industrial competitiveness in the global marketplace. Through its continued financial and technical development, the U.S. Aluminum Industry will contribute significantly to the development of socially useful, ecologically sustainable, and economically viable products and manufacturing processes worldwide. It remains pivotal to the national security of this nation.

Aluminum is critical for many markets vital to U.S. economy. Transportation, aerospace, defense, building and construction, food and beverage packaging, transmission of electricity, consumer durables, machinery and equipment all depend to a significant degree on a consistent supply of competitively priced, technically rich aluminum products. Aluminum processes and products have enabled these industries to continuously enhance the performance, cost, energy efficiency, recyclability and safety of their products. Without technically-sound and financially-capable aluminum producers within the U.S. materials industry, these manufacturing sectors - and many others - would be jeopardized because they will be dependent on foreign suppliers for products which give them a competitive advantage.

The Aluminum Industry is comprised of three principal sectors. The raw materials sector produces alumina (the ore of aluminum) and primary and secondary molten metal and ingot. It is dominated by the Bayer (refining) and Hall-Héroult (smelting) processes. The semifabricated sector produces sheet, plate, foil, forgings, castings, wire, rod, bar, extrusions, elemental and alloyed powders, and a wide variety of alumina-based chemical products. The third sector, finished products, uses products from the first two to manufacture a wide variety of consumer/commercial products, from aircraft, automobiles, building curtain walls, windows and doors to fire retardants to packaging for food products.

All three sectors use manufacturing processes that have been continuously and aggressively improved via research, development and application of modern technologies. The Hall-Héroult process, for example, is significantly more energy efficient and environmentally acceptable than ever before. In the past 20 years, the industry has reduced its worldwide average energy requirement for smelting from more than 8 kilowatt hours to about 6.5 kwh/lb, or about 20 percent. In the same period, energy reductions throughout the Aluminum Industry have reduced CO2 emissions by more than 50 million tonnes per year. Thermomechanical processes used in rolling, casting, extruding, and forging also have been greatly improved by the application of scientific and engineering advances to lower costs, improve productivity, enhance quality and meet growing demands for ecological sustainability.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has encouraged the Aluminum Industry to develop a scenario for the future that will assist in defining future research, development and engineering (RD&E) opportunities that can be the basis for the identification of industry/government partnerships. In this document, we attempt to identify and describe the forces, or drivers, that can be expected to create the scientific and technical challenges that the industry will face in enhancing our worldwide competitiveness over the next 20 to 25 years.

Although several of the key drivers may influence each of the three Aluminum Industry sectors, each possesses unique scientific and technical needs. For example:

• The Raw Materials sector is characterized by relatively established underlying processes, and research, development and engineering for this part of the industry is likely to focus on reducing costs via improved operating, energy and environmental efficiencies. Also, some challenging opportunities have been identified for breakthrough primary technologies to improve the century-old Bayer and Hall-Héroult processes.

• The Semifabricated sector will likely focus on lowering costs and improving performance, quality and environmental acceptability via the development and application of advanced manufacturing processes and technologies.

• In the Finished Product sector, the opportunity may hinge on increased integration of materials and on enhanced process, product design, and enabling technologies to create the products 21st century consumers will demand.

Organization: The Aluminum Association Inc.
Document Number: aa ptf
Publish Date: 1996-03-01
Page Count: 30
Available Languages: EN
DOD Adopted: NO
ANSI Approved: NO
Most Recent Revision: YES
Current Version: YES
Status: Active